Meet Ed Sheeran, unlikely rocker. Sure enough, the pop balladeer has achieved what might have seemed a near impossibility only a week ago. His all-out riff-fest “Blow,” featuring Bruno Mars and Chris Stapleton, from Sheeran’s just-released “No.6 Collaborations Project,” has broken bad at active rock radio, launching at No. 40 on Mediabase with 102 spins.
In fact, the song is hinting at becoming a multi-format hit—despite three other rapid-fire releases sanctioned by label Atlantic from the new album: his CHR, hot AC and AC smash “I Don’t Care” with Justin Bieber; “Beautiful People” featuring Khalid; and “Cross Me,” with Chance the Rapper & PnB Rock, all of which CHR stations are playing.
The question of whether—and how—to place pop star Sheeran, renegade country artist Stapleton and pop/R&B act Mars on rock radio was front of mind last week for consultant Fred Jacobs, who asked in his blog for Jacobs Media Strategies, “Will Rock Radio Play This Song (Can It Afford Not To?).” As Inside Radio reported on July 15, “Blow” “could be a game-changer for a variety of reasons,” according to Jacobs.
Meanwhile, online, during its first four days available as a stream, the song earned nearly 3 million on-demand plays (both audio and video) in the U.S.
Fast forward to July 18. On the all-encompassing Billboard Hot 100, which includes streaming, sales and airplay, “Blow” debuts at No. 60 for the week of July 20, 2019. (Sheeran also propels on the Billboard Artist 100 to No. 3 from No. 8.) At Mediabase, Sheeran has no fewer than seven songs riding the top 40 top 100, including, by spins: the three aforementioned releases—and then “Blow” at No. 55, with 308 spins.
In addition to top 40 and active rock, triple-A radio is playing “Blow” to the tune of 86 spins over the past seven days, Mediabase reports; while hot AC has awarded the song 61 spins. Rhythmic CHR is playing the three Atlantic singles, but not “Blow” (not surprisingly), while the track is not being indulged at either alternative or country. AC, meanwhile, is still obsessed with his hit from two years ago, “Perfect,” which remains in the top 5 there.
Meanwhile, Billboard reports that “Blow” enters at No. 3 on its Hot Rock Songs airplay chart for July 20. The closing track from Sheeran’s new album has garnered 7.5 million U.S. streams, 1.5 million plays across radio and 26,000 paid downloads, according to Nielsen Music. “Blow” also bows at No. 40 on the Mainstream Rock Songs airplay chart, Billboard says.
On Spotify, tracks from the singer-songwriter's “No.6 Collaborations Project” have helped boost monthly listeners on the service to nearly 70 million, the service reports. Sulinna Ong, Spotify UK's Head of Artist & Label Services called it “an incredible and rare feat.”—Chuck Taylor